Of States and Borders on the Internet: The Role of Domain Name Extensions in Expressions of Nationalism Online in Kazakhstan

Irina Shklovski, David M. Struthers

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The space of the Internet is often described as easy to traverse with no regard for national borders. Yet few have considered what such easy border crossings on the Internet might mean to the ordinary people actually doing the traversing. Our qualitative study of regular Internet users in Kazakhstan shows that the naming of a state-controlled space on the Internet, through the use of country code top-level domain names (ccTLDs), does in fact matter to the average user. People are aware of national boundary traversals as they navigate the Internet. Respondents in our study identified their activity on the Internet as happening within or outside the space of the state to which they felt allegiance and belonging. National borders are demarcated on the Internet through naming via ccTLDs and can result in individual expressions of various types of nationalism online. We find that ccTLDs are not just symbolic markers but have real meaning and their importance increases in locations where notions of statehood are in flux.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicy & Internet
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)107–129
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

Cite this